A headless chef
ButterCMS’ headless blogging platform is something the industry needs to see more often. PHOTO: Alexas_Fotos

Chicago-based ButterCMS is a headless content management system that comes with either a bundled or standalone headless blog engine.

Originally built as an alternative to WordPress as a blogging platform, ButterCMS is now a full-fledged CMS that integrates with existing websites and apps to deliver content headlessly, decoupling content from the website itself.

For some context, CMSWire spoke to ButterCMS co-founder and CEO Jake Lumetta.

Lumetta says that he and Co-founder Abi Noda developed ButterCMS when they ran into some WordPress-shaped problems while working at a technology startup.

“There was a business requirement to add a blog to our site, [which is obviously] a very common scenario. So we went down the default path most companies go down: We set up and custom-themed a Wordpress instance,” Lumetta said.

“It seemed like a safe bet, but it turned out to be a very expensive and time-consuming process to customize Wordpress to look and behave the way we wanted. Adding a blog or CMS capability to any modern technology stack should be dead simple. In our experience, it hasn't been. That's what Butter, with an API-first approach to content, aims to solve,” he said.

Their efforts have resulted in the hosted ButterCMS blog engine being completely headless.

Getting Started with ButterCMS

ButterCMS can integrate with any framework, but the ButterCMS team has also built out a robust library of SDKs + Framework plugins for Ruby, Rails, NodeJS, PHP, Laravel, .NET, Python, Django, Javascript and React.

Along with framework-agnostic headless content management and delivery, ButterCMS serves up the following features:

  • Custom content types
  • Media library
  • CDN for assets
  • WYSIWYG editor
  • Testing environment
  • Content previews
  • Content localization
  • Webhooks

Creating Workspaces

To create pages, chunks of text or any other content type, you’ll need to house them in a "Workspace." You then populate that workspace with content fields to build whatever type of content you need.

Content fields come in two forms: "Objects" and "Collections."

Objects cover things like headlines, meta tags and paragraphs, while things like pages, FAQs and testimonials all come under collections.

Once a collection is created, you can add properties. For example, a "Team Members" collection may have three properties: Name (short text), Bio (long text), and Picture (media).

Other property types include HTML, drop-down menus, numbers and WYSIWYG.

To see all your existing content fields, you can head over to the "All Content Fields" page.

Blogging

To create a new blog post, go to the "New Post" page. There, ButterCMS serves up a WYSIWYG editor with all the trimmings. That includes formatting options, tables and an HTML view. You can also preview your blog content and save drafts to edit later.

You can also add tags, categories and a summary to each blog post. The SEO tab lets you configure an SEO title and meta description.

The "Blog Posts" page is where you can view your existing posts in a list view and search through them once you publish enough for certain pieces to get lost.

Asset Management

Over on the "Media Library" page, you can upload assets from your computer, Facebook, Github, Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and Flickr.

Images are listed and searchable in the same way blog posts are, but the upload limit is one file — so there’s no bulk uploading allowed.

Localization and Webhooks

To configure your localization settings, you’ll need to go to "Account Settings."

There, you’ll find the option to add locales and API slugs. You can also set your default locale so your website or app displays in your customer’s preferred or native language.

You'll find Webhook settings in the same place, and they allow you to configure webhooks to POST change notifications to your application. The "Event" types include blog posts being created, updated or deleted, as well as when content fields are updated. The ButterCMS documentation expands on how to configure webhooks.

It’s unclear why the localization and webhook settings are buried under "Account Settings" when they could be easier accessed from the (relatively sparse) sidebar navigation.

ButterCMS Pricing

ButterCMS offers two sets of plans: one set for the blog engine as a standalone product and one set for the full CMS.

For the blog engine — which is free for personal use — you’ll pay anywhere between $24 to $83 per month when billed annually.

For the full CMS, you'll play anywhere between $83 to $166 per month when billed annually. However, even on the most expensive plan, you’ll be limited to 1,000 content fields.

The Verdict

Headless content management systems are sprouting up regularly now, but a natively headless blogging platform is something we need to see more often. ButterCMS’ pricing indicates that it’s geared more towards the enterprise end of the market spectrum rather than the startup end, and by giving marketers and content writers a WYSIWYG blogging editor, ButterCMS helps bridge the gap between marketing teams and headless technology.

As a CMS, ButterCMS ticks all the right boxes for a brand looking to manage multiple websites and apps across devices, channels, coding languages and human languages.

Pros

  • Blog engine comes bundled or as a standalone product
  • WYSIWYG editing
  • Asset management
  • Content localization
  • Webhooks

Cons

  • The user interface is clean, but could be improved
  • 1,000 content field cap on the highest plan

Have you used ButterCMS? Let us know what you think of it in the comments below.